Qualifying: 10th, 5.269 seconds, 298.80 miles-per-hour Eliminations: First Round: Cristen Powell (.553 r.t., 4.947 sec., 290.26 mph) defeated Whit Bazemore (.494 r.t., 5.149 sec., 292.39 mph) Whit Bazemore's day came to a premature...
Qualifying: 10th, 5.269 seconds, 298.80 miles-per-hour
First Round: Cristen Powell (.553 r.t., 4.947 sec., 290.26 mph) defeated
Whit Bazemore (.494 r.t., 5.149 sec., 292.39 mph)
Whit Bazemore's day came to a premature end at today's final eliminations of the Auto Zone Nationals in Memphis, Tennessee. After the Kendall Oil/Superwinch Camaro Z28 Racing Team battled the track, their car and persistent rain showers to qualify tenth, Bazemore was matched against Cristen Powell, the only female driver currently racing in either Top Fuel or Funny Car, in the first round of eliminations. Although Bazemore did his job at the starting line and left on his young opponent by nearly six hundredths of a second, a dropped cylinder quickly hampered his progress. The resultant loss of power was sufficient to slow Bazemore to a 5.149-second elapsed time, which allowed his rival to overcome his lead and just edge him at the finish line.
The loss will have further implications beyond today's race, however, as Bazemore's primary target in the points chase, Tony Pedregon, was able to advance and extended his lead over the Etchells Racing driver.
"When I first approached today's eliminations, I started to think differently, because Cristen's a woman, and I've never raced a woman before. But in order to do everything as I normally do, I started to think of her as a guy. When you race, you have to keep the same though process if you're going to be consistent. If I had concentrated on the fact that she was a woman, it could have thrown me off. So instead of thinking "I have to beat her off the line", I thought "I have to beat him off the line." But in all honestly, it doesn't matter to me who is in the other lane - I just want to defeat them.
"I was able to get a good jump at the start, because she (Powell) was a little late. Unfortunately, it dropped a cylinder almost immediately. I didn't see her forever, until finally she passed us. Of course, with a hole out we had no power, so all we could muster was a 5.14.
"The bad news is that we've had some problems with the Kendall Camaro over the last few races that have been reflected in our performance. Our numbers have fallen off quite a bit from what they were from what they were this summer. The good news is that Tim (crew chief Richards) is aware of them, and is taking steps to correct them. We'll have some news parts and pieces at the next race.
"It's just a part of racing. You're going to have good weeks and bad weeks. We've had four bad ones, but they followed four really good ones. Our team remains focused and hungry and we're doing everything we can to win. Naturally, this makes our pursuit of Tony (Pedregon) and second place even tougher. Its quite simple - we've got three races to go, and we have to win two of those if we hope to finish second. We're going to head to Dallas with an aggressive attitude and try to make things happen."